New funding for rural businesses: woodland & flooding

Fiona Mannix

Associate Director of RICS Land Group (RICS)

The Secretary of State has announced that £120 million will be made available for the next round of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) grant scheme at the Oxford Farming Conference. The funding will support farmers, grow businesses, and generate thousands of jobs in rural communities.

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Rural and farm businesses will soon be able to apply for the next round of the RDPE, which will help new businesses get off the ground and support existing companies to grow, develop new products and access new export markets.

Funding has already benefited dozens of businesses across England and created jobs. Past RDPE projects have benefited the natural environment, with money granted to Dovecote Farm in Northants to help restore flood-plain meadows and grassland along the Nene Valley, while supporting species like otters.

A quarter of England’s businesses are based in the countryside and this funding will give rural start-ups, family-run businesses and farmers looking to diversify the boost they need.

The RDPE has already supported a range of projects, from installing cutting-edge equipment to restoring flood plains; the next round will help create more jobs, sell more products and help us access new markets.

Confirmation of next steps for the RDPE follows the Chancellor’s recent guarantee on supporting projects before we leave the EU, providing they are good value for money and are in line with domestic strategic priorities.

Woodland creation

The £120 million fund will sit alongside recently announced funding for other RDPE projects, including woodland creation and a flood action facilitation fund. Overall, the RDPE will help protect 2.5 million hectares of farmed land, create 6,750 rural jobs and contribute to 11 million new trees.

Farmers and land managers are encouraged to apply for funding to support woodland creation and the long-term management of forests.

Around £17 million will be made available for the Woodland Creation Grant and the Woodland Planning Grant, which will expand and manage woodland. This works towards the shared government and sector ambition to achieve 12% woodland cover in England by 2060.

Find out more about the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) grant scheme

Flood action facilitation fund

Up to £720,000 will be available to encourage groups of farmers, foresters and other land managers to develop natural flood management projects on their land.

The new funding will help these groups in areas hit by last winter’s flooding work together to reduce flood risk and apply for funding to plant trees, create water meadows and restore rivers to their natural meanders.

This fund builds on Government’s commitment to use natural flood management techniques to better protect communities from flooding — £15 million was pledged for natural defences in the Autumn Statement. Previous government-funded schemes have already proven successful, such as the use of "leaky dams" that slow the flow of floodwater used in Pickering, Yorkshire, or better land management upstream in Holnicote, Somerset.

Find out more about the flood action facilitation fund

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